British Indian author Preti Taneja said that Consequences is the most difficult book she ever hopes to write after work following the 2019 London Bridge terrorist attack in the UK won her the 2022 Gordon Burn Prize.
The award, which celebrates the year’s most daring and forward-thinking fiction and non-fiction written in English, is now in its tenth year.
Taneja’s book was selected by a jury of sportswriter and columnist Jonathan Liew, author Denise Mina (chair), broadcaster Stuart Maconie, artist and poet Heather Phillipson and writer of Indian origin based in Scotland Chitra Ramaswamy.
“Consequences is the hardest book I hope to write,” Taneja said.
“To some it’s a controversial book. To others it’s simply the obvious harms of the endemic racism of a British education system that fails to teach colonial history properly; the prejudices in the pipeline of school to prison and criminal justice and the corresponding narratives of policing, security and educational rescue that we cling to but fail to keep anyone safe,” he said. she declared.
Taneja is Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing at Newcastle University and her first novel, We who are younga translation of “King Lear” set in contemporary India, won the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize.
With Consequences she struggles to make sense of the London Bridge terror attack in 2019, when five people were stabbed – two of whom died from their injuries.
Usman Khan was a convicted terrorist who spent eight years in prison and later killed two people, Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, at an event marking the anniversary of a prison program he had been involved in.
Taneja had taught Khan in prison and Jack Merritt was his colleague and “Aftermath” is described as a profound attempt to regain trust after violence and rebuild faith in human compassion: a powerful recommitment to activism and radical hope.
“As a writer of fiction and non-fiction, Gordon Burn has never shied away from tackling the most difficult subjects. He has devoted himself to finding the best form for his work, experimenting not only for effect , but also to explore the ethics of writing about these topics through the writing itself,” Taneja noted.
The Gordon Burn Prize, announced last week, comes with a winner’s check for £5,000 and the opportunity to undertake a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire, in the Scottish Borders.
It was created in memory of the late author of novels like “Fullalove” and non-fiction, including Happy as Murderers: The Story of Fred and Rosemary West.
The award aims to celebrate those who follow in Burn’s footsteps by recognizing literature that is fearless in both ambition and execution. Recognized works often make the reader think, playing with style or genre, pushing boundaries or deviating from mainstream literary culture.
“Consequences is a beautifully crafted and carefully judged examination of an atrocity and the structures and systems surrounding it,” said Justice Ramaswamy.
“I am blown away by Preti Taneja’s writing: both the moral integrity of her approach and her fractured, minimalist prose. “Stayed. I haven’t read anything like it, and I can’t think of a more deserving winner of the Gordon Burn Award,” she said.